Wesneski delivers for 4 innings, but Cubs fall apart in 7-4 loss to Angels
The Cubs have been playing some pretty bad baseball for quite some time now.
They were 19-19 after 38 games then lost seven of eight. After a pair of victories over the Mets, they lost four more to fall to 22-30.
They've righted the ship a bit of late, winning four of seven heading into Tuesday's game at the Angels, but the hitters remain maddeningly inconsistent, and there are holes at the back end of the rotation and in the bullpen.
Despite all the flaws and all the losing, the Cubs -- who lost 7-4 to the Angels on Tuesday -- are still only 6½ games behind first-place Milwaukee.
So, are the players taking any solace in the fact that nobody has been able to run away with the NL Central? Maybe a little bit.
"It's too early to look at that, but it's nice when you're going through a stretch like this to only be a few games back," left fielder Ian Happ said before the Cubs began this 10-game road trip. "It's more deflating if you're 10-15 games back. ... "Our goal is (still) to go out and win this division."
To do that, the Cubs desperately need starting pitchers like Hayden Wesneski to deliver impressive results more often -- and that's exactly what he did through 4 innings against the Angels, giving up only a solo home run to Shohei Ohtani.
But then came a disastrous fifth in which the Angels scored five times. The Cubs were their own worst enemy, as Wesneski hit Gio Urshela with a pitch, first baseman Matt Mervis flubbed an easy groundball, and reliever Brandon Hughes issued a pair of walks and a pair of 2-run singles to Mike Trout and Matt Thaiss.
Just like that, the Angels turned a 4-1 deficit into a 6-4 lead.
At the plate, Seiya Suzuki did break out of an 0-for-16 slump with a leadoff single in the second that kick-started a 4-run frame. Yan Gomes (double), Mike Tauchman (2-run single), Patrick Wisdom (walk) and Mervis (2-run double) had the key hits. Mervis, who had been 1-for-36 when a count reached two strikes, ripped a 2-2 fastball down the right-field line.
The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but SS Zach Neto snared a bullet (105.4 exit velocity) off the bat of Yan Gomes and doubled Ian Happ off second base.
The Cubs also had a chance in the ninth, but Suzuki struck out on a 100-mph pitch from Carlos Estevez after Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ singled.
Hendricks (basically) happy:
After a long rehab, Kyle Hendricks started his third game of the season Monday at San Diego and allowed 4 runs on 6 hits in 6 innings. He struggled in the second inning, giving up a 2-run homer to Gary Sanchez and back-to-back doubles to Matt Carpenter and Ha-Seong Kim.
Hendricks, who had three pitch-clock violations, was able to retire the final 10 batters he faced.
"I kind of lost my rhythm a little bit in the second," Hendricks told reporters. "It's tough with the pitch clock. I feel like once things kind of start getting out of control (it's) tough to rein it back in. Just made a couple bad pitches honestly that they put good swings on. ...
"Was able to really bounce back well. Just got to take the positives. I feel like I made a lot of good pitches."
On the season, Hendricks has allowed 10 runs (8 earned) on 18 hits in 15⅓ innings for a 4.70 ERA. He's walked five and struck out 12.
"I feel really good," Hendricks said. "Body physically feels great. Shoulder feels great. (There's) life on it. Everything's coming out like I want it too. Getting a lot of soft contact. ... I feel like I'm in a great spot."